There is often skepticism from South African shoppers about the real value one can get from deals on Black Friday. Are discounts as ‘enormous’ as local stores and online retailers say they are?
Karl Hammerschmidt, CEO of e-retailer RunwaySale provides some perspective on what its like on the other side of the biggest shopping day of the year. RunwaySale claims to be the largest privately held online fashion retailer in the country.
“Stats SA recently announced that retail sales rose by 2.5% in August,” said Hammerschmidt. “Although this is not a huge increase it is higher than economists predicted. Hopefully this growth will continue as we head toward the end of year but we do know that Black Friday will play a major role in helping boost sales.
“It will be a welcome relief for cash-strapped consumers and also help increase sales in what has been a challenging year for retailers.”
Although traditionally a US phenomenon, Black Friday has become increasingly popular locally over the past three years.
“Initially we weren’t particularly keen to be part of the Black Friday hype,” said Hammerschmidt. “We sell designer fashion and accessories online at discounted prices. This means that every day is pretty much a Black Friday at RunwaySale. However, the hundreds of designer brands we represent wanted to test the market and response to a countrywide big sale day.”
“Three years ago we ran our first Black Friday promotion and have not looked back. Sales have increased exponentially year-on-year. Last year we had over 10,000 shoppers before 11h00 and tripled our biggest sale day.”
“On average our website was responding to customers in less than 1/10th of a second. However, considering nearly 60% of our customers were shopping on their phone – this speedy turnaround time was crucial for sales.”
A week of specials
This year RunwaySale said it will be running a week-long promotion. It kicks-starts at 05h00 on Monday, November 19, building up to Black Friday and then beyond to midnight on Sunday, November 25.
Daily escalating discounts will be available on thousands of designer fashion and accessory brands, culminating in up to 80% off. There will also be exclusive offers for VIP shoppers, early launch sales and other daily pop-up special surprises to maximise savings for shoppers.
“We have liaised with brands to source exclusive and desirable stock, increased stock to cater for demand, are warehousing extra stock and have coordinated with our courier supplier to ensure speedy delivery, with some items ready to be bought and delivered on the same day,” said Hammerschmidt.
“Black Friday takes all year to plan,” said Hammerschmidt. “This includes stress testing our site a couple of times to make sure the shopping experience is seamless. We are also applying successful strategies used last year – such as splitting our database into five separate systems.
“In simple terms, this allows people who were still browsing not to be affected by those placing orders. We have built in a payment system that allows us to switch banks, without any downtime, even if the bank that processes our credit cards goes down.”